#GamerGate – An Issue With Two Sides
By Allum Bokhari
Critics of GamerGate argue that the revolt is nothing more than a pushback against a ‘broader’ audience. They say it’s anti-diversity, anti-inclusive. Most often, we hear it’s ‘toxic’.
Dozens of articles have been published in this vein. They have been a long time coming. For years, politicized games journalists have harbored a simmering mix of contempt and fear of the current gaming audience.
The problem with this narrative is that it mistakes opposition to culture warriors with opposition to diversity. It mistakes a disdain for ideology with a disdain for inclusivity.
GamerGate, Sincerity, and Horseshit
GamerGate is, at its heart, a question of sincerity. Are game journalists sincere in their attempt to inform? Are social justice warriors sincere in their efforts to reform? Are game developers sincere in their efforts to be more inclusive? And perhaps most important: are gamers sincere, at all, or have the dual barrels of Twitter and Chan blasted all possible sincerity from the floundering corpse of gaming in general?
Sincerity is important. Without it, nobody believes you. If you don’t at least appear to be sincere, every word you utter or type is automatically dismissed under a variety of waved-hands: you’re a troll, you’re a con-artist, you’re a misogynist, you’re a shill, you’re an ideologue, etcetera. At the bottom of it all, these are insults meant to indict you for a lack of sincerity. This is important, because a perceived lack of sincerity is one of the only ways to dismiss someone’s views without honestly engaging them . . . unless of course you are a hypocritical shithead. And we’ll get to that.
GamerGate: Part I: Sex, Lies, and Gender Games
By Cathy Young
Those who voice their loathing of “the SJWs” are not simply talking about people sympathetic to socially progressive causes but about cultist zealots who enforce the party line with the fervor of Mao’s Red Guards, though luckily without the real-life power. In social-media discussions of art and entertainment, the “warriors” can be found sniffing out and attacking such ideological deviations as liking a heterosexual love interest for a character perceived as gay, liking or disliking a character on the wrong side of race-and-gender identity politics, or (I kid you not) using the “ableist” nickname “derpy” for a klutzy pony on the TV cartoon My Little Pony. Let them gain enough influence in an online community, and they will poison it for anyone who wants to talk to other fans of their favorite shows, movies, or books—or games—without relentless hectoring about “privilege” and “oppression.”
it’s pretty simple, really
By Fredrik deBoer
“Social justice” is an awkward term for an immensely important project, perhaps the most important project, which is to make the world a more equitable, fair, and compassionate place. But the project for social justice has been captured by an elite strata of post-collegiate, digitally-enabled children of privilege, who do not pursue that project as an end, but rather use it as a means with which to compete, socially and professionally, with each other. In that use, they value not speech or actions that actually result in a better world, but rather those that result in greater social reward, which in the digital world is obvious and explicit. That means that they prefer engagement that creates a) outrage and b) jokes, rather than engagement that leads to positive change. In this disregard for actual political success, they reveal their own privilege, as it’s only the privileged who could ever have so little regard for actual, material progress. As long as they are allowed to co-opt the movement for social justice for their own personal aggrandizement, the world will not improve, not for women, people of color, gay and transgender people, or the poor.
Where Online Social Liberalism Lost The Script
By Freddie deBoer
It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. I now mostly associate that public face with danger, with an endless list of things that you can’t do or say or think, and with the constant threat of being called an existentially bad person if you say the wrong thing, or if someone decides to misrepresent what you said as saying the wrong thing. There are so many ways to step on a landmine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks. The hundreds of young people I teach, tutor, and engage with in my academic and professional lives teach me about the way these movements are perceived. I have strict rules about how I engage with students in class, and I never intentionally bring my own beliefs into my pedagogy, but I also don’t steer students away from political issues if they turn the conversation that way. I cannot tell you how common it is for me to talk to 19, 20, 21 year old students, who seem like good people, who discuss liberal and left-wing beliefs as positive ideas, but who shrink from identifying with liberalism and feminism instinctively. Privately, I lament that fact, but it doesn’t surprise me. Of course much of these feelings stem from conservative misrepresentations and slanders of what social liberalism is and means. But it also comes from the perception that, in the online forums where so much political discussion happens these days, the slightest misstep will result in character assassination and vicious condemnation.
GamerGate, Part 2: Videogames Meet Feminism
By Cathy Young
In this kind of atmosphere, it’s not surprising that many people aren’t very keen on having discussions of gender and sexism. Sabrina Harris, the British tech writer and longtime gamer who supports GamerGate, told me in an email:
Many gaming publications have, over the past few years, demonised any attempt to evaluate the arguments of women involved in gaming criticism, no matter how idiotic or demonstrably false the things they say can be. If you’re a man criticising a woman, you’re sexist. If you’re a woman criticising a woman, you have internalised misogyny. There is no allowing for discussion with the kind of people writing these articles: you agree with their worldview or you are a bigot. Personally, I feel #GamerGate is a result of this shameful attitude being pushed by those in the gaming media with positions of power for a prolonged period of time.
The Left’s Self-Destructive Obsession with Shame
To my dismay, I’ve found myself in the midst of a social justice world that not only encourages shame, but uses it as a weapon. Shame is so often at the root of personal dysfunction, and here we have a left dedicated to its perpetual transference. Shame is ultimately self-destructive, and in no way can such a sentiment be a foundation for healthy community.
Unfortunately, in the modern left we don’t combat shame, we worship it. Perhaps the most obvious expression of the Left’s present obsession with shame and shaming can be seen in what has been dubbed “call out culture”. The “call out” is a form of shaming — which intentionally labels an individual as fundamentally bad — and is a deeply toxic tendency in the Left.
How Social Justice Warriors Are Creating An Entire Generation Of Fascists
By Joshua Goldberg
What separates SJWs from common sociopathic bullies is that SJWs genuinely believe that what they are doing is helping to advance society and to turn the world into a more loving, equal place. They abuse and threaten people with the full approval of their own consciences, completely secure in their belief that what they are doing is the good and righteous thing. A villain who sincerely believes that they are a hero is perhaps the worst kind of villain there is. To quote C.S. Lewis: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
“Everything is problematic”
By Aurora Dagny
There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I’ve pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism.
… a liberal education should make certain habits of rationality second nature. Educated people should be able to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech. They should appreciate that objective knowledge is a precious commodity, and know how to distinguish vetted fact from superstition, rumor, and unexamined conventional wisdom. They should know how to reason logically and statistically, avoiding the fallacies and biases to which the untutored human mind is vulnerable. They should think causally rather than magically, and know what it takes to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. They should be acutely aware of human fallibility, most notably their own, and appreciate that people who disagree with them are not necessarily stupid or evil. Accordingly, they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery.
Bill Maher @ Berkeley 2014 Winter Commencement
Posted by UC Berkeley Campus Life (YouTube, 15 minutes)
Be a freethinker. One reason our politics is so screwed up is because everyone has become so tribal. As you go down the path of life, ask what’s true, not who else believes it. Be unique. Stay vigilant for busting yourself for falling into groupthink. Y’know, everything good and smart started out mocked by the mainstream.
In my year and a half in the group, I was often the only dissenting opinion in specific topics and most of the time I got totally ignored. Sometimes I was criticized or told I was off-topic. Sometimes I was warned I was “creating a hostile environment” to specific people for disagreeing with them in an unapologetic way, and a couple times I was told I’d be kicked out of the group. The informal pressure to “fall in line” with the groupthink was very strong.
It only got worse after Breitbart recently published a leaked thread from the GameJournosPros group that discussed coverage of the Zoe Quinn affair. In the group, I questioned where these journalists drew the line in terms of covering salacious stories involving sources and asked if they’d actually examined evidence. My inquiries were treated incredulously or ignored. When a small amount of pro-Gamer Gate people online began following me on Twitter and praising me and I began engaging with them, here’s the response I got from journalists in the group: One said I was fueling harassment and threats, called me an “asshole,” some blocked me on Twitter, or tried contacting my colleagues or editors in attempt to shame me into silence or have my bosses silence me.
It’s what happens when a group of people are stuck in a bubble of social media-fueled “Like” culture. They become hyper-sensitive to contrary points of view, even though it’s their job to wrestle with different ideas.
On Marginalization of Gamers
… video gamers are diverse either in identity or in simple activity. In both measures, gamers come from a vast, diverse landscape. They carry multiple statuses and experiences. However, video game media and the media at large have painted video gamers with the same, broad brush—
Video gamers, to some of them, are cis-gender, heterosexual, teenaged, white men who are sociopathic, psychopathic, racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, ableist, mentally disordered, intrinsically flawed, introverted, neck-bearded, obese, reclusive shut-ins who are dying, should die, or will die once they have established a culture that they have decided is more appropriate.
Some of them have decided that they utilized the various methods of oppression through silencing, censoring, dismissing, marginalizing, blaming, isolating, stereotyping, and outright erasing people from a diverse walk of life.
I Am Afraid
When a number of people supporting a cause have their personal information spread all over the internet, I am afraid, because one of those names could be mine, and there are people out there who I do not want to have that information.
When the person who created a platform for minorities who felt their voices were being erased has his work contacted and is fired over it, I am afraid, because it would take only one phone call and I would find myself in the same situation.
When I’m told that the previous comments were ill-advised jokes, I am afraid, because those words have been used to excuse actual bullying in my life, and they got away with it, then.
When the number of death threats, rape threats and other forms of harassment against one side is too big to count, I am afraid, because a culture of fear is being created, and that is not a culture I want to live in.
When none of this is reported on in mainstream media in order to reduce three other women to their victimhood, I am afraid, because I am being demonised to promote a narrative, to fabricate a moral panic that has no basis in reality.
When I think of this happening to me, I am afraid, because I am forced to consider that this may have happened to others before, and I was not aware.
Many people have gotten hurt over this, and nobody is talking about it.
When I hear friends from eastern Europe and China tell stories about this, I am afraid, because the stories they tell have far too many similarities to the current situation for me to feel anything else.
When a transgendered individual supporting us is banned from a subreddit and told she is their property by the moderators, I am afraid, because this is the mindset we are up against.
When I’m told I should be sent to death camps, I am afraid, because I do not want to die.
When I’m told that we’re weaponising charity, I am afraid, because it shows that we will never be able to do anything right in the eyes of the other side, and they will see everything we do in a negative light.
When a prominent member of the opposition says that ‘there is (almost) no such thing as a bad tactic, only bad targets’ and isn’t called out on it by others, I am afraid, because this is exactly the ‘ends justifies the means’ mindset that caused so many problems in history.
When prominent news outlets question whether our side of the story should be heard at all, I am afraid, because I am apparently so evil that I have less rights than confirmed serial killers.
When all of this happens, I am powerless, I am voiceless, I am afraid.
But I am not going to stop.
NG: On the subject of censorship, as a native from Poland, I was curious of your experiences with institutionalized censorship. Forgive me if this is too forward (as I’m unsure of your age) but do you have any memories of Soviet Poland’s censorship?
AC: I’m 43, so yes, I remember the censorship quite well. Censorship and propaganda.
The propaganda was that, for example, you turned on the TV only to learn that Solidarity is the “enemy of the people” and they “stole some money”. But you were able to understand—combining the credibility of the communist propagandists, the verifiable info you got from the underground Solidarity press, and the experiences of every day life—that it’s all a lie. However, you could not be open about it, or you would face consequences or, at best, you’d be censored, silenced, ignored.
However, I want to make it clear that I am not comparing Gamergate to Solidarity. Let’s not compare the fight for a nation’s freedom, a fight full of the fallen, the hardest sacrifices, the impossible choices, with a feud over video games, shall we? But still, some elements are uncannily similar, and were actually the reason why I decided not to be silent on the subject.
We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.
In 2015, have cojones: say no to self-censorship
By Brendan O’Neill
Self-censorship is the worst form of censorship, for it encourages people to internalise illiberalism. It plants a secret censor in every boardroom and newsroom and gallery and even in people’s minds — an invisible tut-tutter constantly warning us ‘don’t say that’ and ‘don’t show that’ because, in the words of Index on Censorship, there’s ‘the possibility of a hostile response’. It nurtures risk-aversion, even moral cowardice, and it discourages people from taking great leaps of the mind or pushing culture in a new and provocative direction.
The year of the cultural colonialist
By Tom Slater
Not only is socially irresponsible work ‘bad’ – apparently it’s dangerous. Fuelled by a growing contempt for the audience – a refusal to believe in their ability to grapple with nuanced, subversive or even exploitative subject matter – these cultural colonialists have decided to weaponise culture. If all people are blank slates, if we are so easily programmed by the ‘messages’ we receive, then someone should at least make sure we are getting the right kind of messages, or so the logic goes.
When Did the Art World Get So Conservative?
By Jerry Saltz
One of art’s great weapons is its bad taste — how something can seem ugly, wrong, or off but still help extend art. Art is for anyone; it just isn’t for everyone. And we have to stop acting as if it is something to be domesticated, proper, good. Oscar Wilde thought that art is amoral, something first for itself; sometimes, it’s something you cross the street to avoid. Sometimes art is Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” blatantly howling a barbaric yelp. Come what may. Operating within rules isn’t art. It’s about acceptance. Being good. Moreover, if we’re this bunkered in, what are we retreating from? What are we so afraid of? And why?
The World Is Not Falling Apart
By Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack
Why is the world always “more dangerous than it has ever been”—even as a greater and greater majority of humanity lives in peace and dies of old age?
Too much of our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration. Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions, and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalist bait. Then come sound bites from “experts” with vested interests in maximizing the impression of mayhem: generals, politicians, security officials, moral activists. The talking heads on cable news filibuster about the event, desperately hoping to avoid dead air. Newspaper columnists instruct their readers on what emotions to feel.
The Bad News About the News
By Robert G. Kaiser
We seem to have adapted to the demise of the old expectations about accuracy, fairness, and reporting without much of a fight.
Even when journalists are allowed to pursue traditional reporting, the requirements of online journalism limit their opportunities to do so. Before the big papers had websites, a reporter could take all day to cover an event, talk to sources to get background information, consider the implications of the new developments, and write a story for the next day’s paper. Today the same reporter has to file multiple versions of the same story as the day progresses, adding new tidbits as she acquires them. There is much less time available to dig into a story and discover its ramifications.
Lessons From the Rolling Stone Debacle
By Megan McArdle
… this is the danger of starting out knowing the story you want to tell. Generally, when I write a feature, I have no idea what I’m going to find. Is the thing I think is a problem actually going to turn out to be a problem? Sometimes the answer is “no” or “not the way that you think,” and sometimes the answer is “it’s exactly as bad as you thought, maybe even worse.” The point is that my view of the subject frequently changes in some significant way. Erdely, by contrast, seems to have started out knowing the story she wanted to tell, about a campus where rape is out of control and authorities are indifferent, and sifted through stories until she found a place that matched the narrative. This is incredibly dangerous. It is also not rare. Indeed, scientists have a name for it: confirmation bias.
Is There a Cyber War on Women?
By Cathy Young
There is no doubt that many women, prominent and obscure, have experienced severe online harassment that can spill over into “real life.” Hess’s stalker, who repeatedly threatened her with rape and murder, went from emails to phone calls and voice mail messages. Whether such harassment is a female-specific problem and so pervasive as to actually deter women’s online participation, is far less clear.
Hess and her supporters’ argument relies heavily on out-of-context (and sometimes inaccurate) data, anecdotal evidence, and conflating serious harassment with garden-variety trolling and petty insults. These claims, uncritically received, are fanning a moral panic that could punish legitimate speech and create a more negative environment for women on the Internet.
By Maeve Duggan
Overall, men are somewhat more likely than women to experience at least one of the elements of online harassment, 44% vs. 37%. In terms of specific experiences, men are more likely than women to encounter name-calling, embarrassment, and physical threats.
Fully 44% of internet users believe online gaming is more welcoming to men, while just 3% believe it is more welcoming toward women. Half believe it is equally welcoming to men and women, a proportion much lower than any of the other environments. While most online women believed online gaming was equally welcoming to both genders (55%), a substantial minority believed it was more welcoming to men (40%). Men were more likely than women to think online gaming was more welcoming to men, 49% vs. 40%.
Different online platforms have various user bases, reputations, and customs. The prevalence of online harassment in these online “neighborhoods” varies significantly. The 40% of internet users who had ever been the target of online harassment were asked to think about their most recent experience and indicate where that experience happened (totals add to more than 100% because respondents were allowed to choose multiple responses):
66% of internet users who have experienced online harassment said their most recent incident occurred on a social networking site or app
22% named the comments section of a website
16% named online gaming
16% said it occurred via a personal email account
10% said it was on a discussion site such as reddit
6% said it happened on an online dating website or app
Women, Gamers, and the Future — An Interview with Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers
by Nicole Seraphita
If there is a community more open, diverse or hospitable than gamers, I have not seen it. This is a group that does not care about your age, sex, ethnic background, or sexual orientation — they just want to game. They love their hobby, and when critics come armed with evidence-free theories about its toxicity, they react.
Newsweek links directly to the graph where all agents are less than 5% positive mention and 5–10% negative mention.
This means that 90–85% of mentions are neutral — neither positive nor negative. Not hateful or helpful. They are just tweets that are neutral.
However, Wofford just waltzes by this fact that most of these mentions, responses, or thoughts are neutral. This graphic alone gives major evidence that GamerGate is not anti-woman. It’s very much neutral to gender as persons of both gender are mentioned positively, neutrally, and negatively.
#Gamergate – a network analysis
By Chris von Csefalvay
The results of my network analysis is incompatible with the description of #Gamergate as a hate group. For one, a hate group would have a high degree of centrality, very often centered around a charismatic leader. Decentralised structures provide for more liberal organisational ideologies in the long run. The network analysis is also incompatible with the assertion that #Gamergate is regularly harassing particular personalities, since if that were the case, there would be clearly visible evidence in the form of numerous, highly weighted edges converging on the same handful of targets. Instead, the inner ‘heart’ of the network, which is the only area with high-weight edges, is almost exclusively populated by leading commentators supportive of #Gamergate. Of course, no mathematical examination can prove or disprove harassment, and even a single instance of it is unacceptable. However, mathematical analysis of social interactions can show whether the typical patterns of harassment, as described above, are present. In this case, they are not. Therefore, such allegations must bear the burden of proof of how the mathematical evidence of prolonged, intense, harassing conduct by a large number of members of a group is absent from a quite diligently gathered and relatively large number of tweets.
GamerGate: How Consumers Are Influencing the Culture Battle
By Scott Shackford
Remember that reputation millennials have for being “entitled”? Even millennials agree! And while people tend to associate entitlement with a negative mentality—with people wanting or taking something that they don’t deserve or haven’t earned—let’s look at it from the angle of consumers. GamerGate revolves around various parties attempting and lobbying for games and game journalism that cater specifically to them. The friction seems to revolve around a belief that all sides can’t get what they want, or that the other side shouldn’t get what it wants. Do feminist gamers really want more games with better representation of women or do they want validation by destroying or eliminating the games that don’t provide what they want? Do GamerGate supporters really want better ethics in game journalism or do they want their opinions about the content of video games and the state of the industry validated by reviewers and writers?
But these are all completely false choices that highlight the low stakes of this fight and thus explains why GamerGate is perhaps not being treated seriously by people without direct interest. There’s no reason why the incredibly vast and growing library of video games cannot contain both Depression Quest and the deliberately absurdly sexist Duke Nukem Forever.
Ultimately, GamerGate is partly about how the now-adult millennial audience embraces its consumer power. The entitlement mentality is not entirely bad, because it will push for increased diversity in consumer choices. We actually have seen a noticeable improvement in how women are represented in many video games. But a culture war that posits that a consumer product as vast as the video game industry must actually reject appeals to a particular demographic is doomed to descend into petty public squabbles over which demographic to cater to. Choosing between demographics doesn’t lead to growth in the industry, and therefore that effort will not be successful in the long run.
#GamerGate – If It’s Not About Ethics…
Compiled by Racer EXE (YouTube, 14 minutes)
“… be polite, firm, insistent, factual and relentless about making sure they hold themselves to the highest standards of quality and they get their facts right. If they publish an opinion you don’t like, that’s not corruption. That’s not what corruption means. You are at liberty to complain about it or to express your disagreement but what you need to look out for is wrongdoing, failures of accuracy and journalistic process and ethics. And if you can nail them on stuff like that, they have no option but to fix articles when they’re wrong, no option but to respond to you and if you keep doing that eventually they will raise their standards. That’s how to win this. Because precisely as the commenter suggested, this is now a subculture. There’s now a large engaged body of people who are alive to many of the same issues and concerns and who are acting as consumer watchdogs effectively on powerful publishers. And I think that’s the reason Gamergate’s already won.”